My kid’s a thumb-sucker, so what? It doesn’t both me one bit. But I’m so surprised how so many people – including complete strangers – seem to have such strong opinions on the matter. The reality is that babies love to suck. Thumbs, fingers, toes, pacifiers (AKA dummies or binkies depending which part of the world you live in), boobies, random household objects, you name it they’ll put it in their mouth.
Bearing the constant barrage of thumb-sucking critics is probably just karma’s way of paying me back for being such a dummy-hater. I have a few reasons for my position on pacifiers. Firstly, my teeth are crooked because I refused to give up my dummies. My parents struggled to get me to kick the habit – in fact, I was sucking on dummies for so long that I can actually remember using them.
I’m not a fan of pacifiers after witnessing countless numbers of 4 and 5 year olds – yes, quite big kids – screaming at their mothers, “Give me my dummy!” I swore never to be on the receiving end of one of these tantrums. I also just hate the look of dummies – especially when bigger kids are sucking on them. I know it’s a trivial thing, but it just annoys me.
My 1½-year old, Alisha, started thumb-sucking when she learned how to settle herself to sleep at around 4 months of age. Since then, she sucks her thumb when she gets tired or stressed. It provides her with a great source of self-regulated comfort – she just pops it in herself when she needs it. For my part, I have never had to worry about putting a fallen pacifier back in Alisha’s mouth to help her sleep, lost or dropped dummies.
I also figure that if she wants to suck her thumb, let her, she will stop when she is ready. As for the criticisms that it will ruin her teeth, well they seem to be perfectly straight so far. Plus, I used a dummy and my teeth didn’t turn out too great so I don’t really think that’s a valid argument.
I’ve also been told that thumb-sucking leads to speech difficulties. So far, this has also proven untrue. Alisha began talking in short sentences from 16 months of age and with excellent pronunciation.
If Alisha doesn’t learn how to stop on her own before she starts school, my only concern is that she will be teased. But then again, that’s just what school is like isn’t it? Every one get’s teased for something. If it’s not for being a thumb sucker, it’s for what’s in your lunchbox, having a funny-sounding name, being a slow runner or maybe even for having crooked teeth after being allowed to suck a dummy for too long!